Teaching English Idioms with Language Lizard

Idioms are a common part of speech and a fun vehicle to help emerging bilingual students communicate and understand conversational English.   Getting your students familiar with them early on can help them communicate more naturally and give them a deeper understanding of the English language. 

I love children’s books and have long collected bilingual titles for use in my classroom. Picture books aren’t just for early readers. Many fantastic picture books concisely teach a concept, portray a literary device, or fill in background knowledge in a way that can not only fit into one class period but also keep readers’ (or listeners’) attention. 

An idiom is a form of figurative language that can be especially difficult for emerging bilingual students. They’re a lot of fun to teach and to learn, and as students begin to use them in their own speech, they will sound more like native speakers and become better listeners, more in tune to colloquial English.

twin emerging bilingual boys reading a book together
Twin emerging bilinguals reading the English idiom, Make a Mountain Out of a Molehill

Language Lizard Idiom Books

I am delighted to share a new series of books published by Language Lizard, LLC that introduces English idioms to children in many diverse languages. Bilingual versions of the books provide idiom translations and meanings in the child’s home language, making them easier for English learners to understand.

I was recently gifted Fresh as a Daisy: English Nature Idioms to review on my blog. It is one of four books in a series, each with a different theme:

 The idioms are presented with characters and settings from around the world, using clever multicultural illustrations, side-by-side translations, and an English example sentence.   

A girl on her dog on a beach illustrating the English idiom, A Needle in a Haystack

Virtual Teaching Activities with Idioms

One of the activities I have had success with virtually is Running Dictation and idioms work really well for this activity. I begin by assigning roles to each students: 

  • Runner/Reader – Reads / memorizes the sentence and when ready, goes to the breakout room (or another part of the classroom if teaching in-person) to dictate it to their classmates. I help them with pronunciation and they can return to the main room as often as they like to read it again. 
  • Writer – Writes the sentence into their notebook.
  • Artist – Draws the sentence in detail to show understanding.

I then send all students to a breakout room (my groups are small so thus far, they have all gone to a single room but groups of 3-4 are ideal) and ask the “Runner / Reader” to stay in the main room.  I screen share the idiom in the main room. When the runner reports that he has finished, I close the break out room and encourage everyone to compare what they wrote with the original. Artists are also invited to share their drawings with the class which always brings out the laughter. With each new sentence, students get a new role.

The Language Lizard, LLC books also come with free multicultural lessons and activities to support culturally responsive teaching.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2021 (1/29/21) is in its 8th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Eight years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Prgamaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

Platinum Sponsors: Language Lizard Bilingual Books in 50+ Languages, Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

Gold Sponsors: Barefoot Books, Candlewick Press, CapstoneHoopoe Books,  KidLitTV, Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

Silver Sponsors: Charlotte Riggle, Connecticut Association of School Librarians, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Pack-N-Go Girls

Bronze Sponsors: Agatha Rodi and AMELIE is IMPRESSED!, Barnes Brothers Books, Create and Educate Solutions, LLC, Dreambuilt Books, Dyesha and Triesha McCants/McCants Squared, Redfin Real Estate, Snowflake Stories, Star Bright Books, TimTimTom Bilingual Personalized Books, Author Vivian Kirkfield, Wisdom Tales Press, My Well Read Child 

MCBD 2021 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Poster Artist: Nat Iwata

Authors: Author Afsaneh Moradian, Author Alva Sachs & Three Wishes Publishing Company, Author Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen, Author Anna Olswanger, Author Casey Bell , Author Claudine Norden, Author Debbie Dadey, Author Diana Huang & IntrepidsAuthor Eugenia Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Green Kids Club,  Author Gwen Jackson, Author Janet Balletta, Author Josh Funk, Author Julia Inserro, Karter Johnson & Popcorn and Books, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, Author Keila Dawson, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Author Mia Wenjen, Michael Genhart, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Natalie Murray, Natalie McDonald-Perkins, Author Natasha Yim, Author Phe Lang and Me On The Page Publishing, Sandra Elaine Scott, Author Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay FletcherTales of the Five Enchanted Mermaids, Author Theresa Mackiewicz, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Author Toshia Stelivan, Valerie Williams-Sanchez & The Cocoa Kids Collection Books©, Author Vanessa Womack, MBA, Author Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series

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About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥